Who’s your daddy?

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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The Dying Pet’s Bill of Rights

As I prepare for my third year at IAAHPC, the veterinary hospice conference, I’ve taken pause to reflect on this journey and how it affects the way I view veterinary medicine. Personally, I have only euthanized a personal pet in a clinic (versus at home) one time.

It was Nuke, my vet school coonhound, and he was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma just a month after I graduated and came back home. The veterinarian was lovely and did as great a job as one can do in that situation, but so many memories still stick in my head:

-They asked me to come in at the end of the day, ostensibly to make it easier for me. It meant I had to wait all day and then sit, sobbing, in rush hour traffic. It wasn’t what I preferred, but I was too tired and sad to realize I should have asked for what I needed.

-They took him in the back to place a catheter. I get it, I did the same thing throughout my entire clinic career. It’s definitely easier for the staff. I would have preferred to be with him the whole time. After doing it by myself in people’s homes with no backup- yes, it is perfectly possible.

-After I left, they took his body and placed it in a black garbage bag in the freezer until the aftercare place arrives on their weekly rounds. I know, because we all do this. Every clinic I have worked at does it this way. It is just the way it is done.

But does it have to be?

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I know that the answer is no. I know that there are options out there that so many people want, so many ways we can better respect the dignity of our patients and clients before and after death, and we owe it to you all to let you know they are possible. Veterinarians have many reasons for not offering them, and they are not invalid concerns:

  • They are more expensive
  • They take more time to organize
  • Most people do not want them

While many if not most clients are fine with the process the way it is, it hurts me to no end to know that so many people are still unaware of the myriad additional options out there to help your pet at end of life and to ease your pain as a family through the process. You may have to advocate for yourself, prepare, and find these options on your own- trust me, after having to advocate for my mother to get into hospice when it wasn’t offered as an option, this is kind of a universal problem.

end-of-life

To that end, I’d like to share with you my End of Life Bill of Rights- the things that you as an owner have a right to ask for and, after having worked with so many like minded colleagues now for several years- I can tell you that someone out there is equipped to provide you with:

The Right to Refuse Treatment. If your pet is suffering from a terminal disease, you have the right to say no to chemo, or surgery, or radiation. I believe in my heart that most veterinarians out there support clients in that, but there seems to be a lost-in-translation moment where so many owners feel pressured into heroic measures they were not prepared to take, emotionally or financially. This does not mean I am advocating to neglect an ill pet in suffering- quite the contrary, I am advocating for aggressive and patient focused comfort care.

The Right to Pursue Treatment. On the flip side, if you want to take your pet to the best of the best and do everything in the book possible to change things, it’s your call, not ours. We can offer you guidance and advice, but our job is to help you make an informed decision about realistic outcomes.

The Right to Have Your Family Involved. Unfortunately, some veterinarians still actively discourage families from having children present during euthanasia in the clinic. The emotion makes them uncomfortable and is disruptive. It is a clinic-focused way of thinking that is not focused on family needs. This is a once in a lifetime transition, and you need to do what you need to do. Many clients do not want their children present, which is fine- especially for kids under 5 who don’t understand what is happening- but it should be your choice. What your children see and hear- or don’t see- will live with them forever. If you don’t know how to approach the conversation- there are many, many professionals who do, and they have excellent resources to help.

The Right to Impeccably Respectful Aftercare. Most people don’t want to know what we do with a pet’s body afterwards. If they ask, I would tell them, and assure them we are as respectful as we can be. I believe in transparency. Nonetheless it is a disturbing image to many, myself included. If we can’t be honest without feeling like there’s a need to cushion the blow, why not change it? Especially when it’s such an easy thing to do?

More recently I have worked with a local business that doesn’t use bags or hold pets onsite; pets are wrapped in a clean white sheet and transported directly to the crematory facility, with the family knowing that the position their pet was last placed in is how they will remain. Yes, it costs more. And yes, many people are happy to pay it for that peace of mind. Some clients of mine transport their pet directly to an aftercare facility themselves, or have a trusted friend do it, because that chain of custody is important to them. These are all valid options.

The Right to Die at Home. The first time I went to a hospice conference, it changed everything for me. We can do so much better by our clients. In-home hospice and euthanasia veterinarians are changing the landscape of the profession, and providers exist all over the world. We are trained to offer not only medical support, but we are able to direct your family to the compassionate emotional support you may need, through chaplains, grief counselors, and support groups. We can offer palliative care options when medical treatment is discontinued- as in humans, we have a wide array of comfort care support that goes far beyond a pain pill here and there that can ease the discomfort of end of life.

And when the time comes, you will be at home, in a safe place, with those around you that you need. I bring blankets, candles, music- things that might not be practical in a busy clinic but, in a time of grief, provide small but vital bits of calm through all the senses. For those who experience euthanasia in a clinic, you also have the right to take the time you need, to make the environment what you need it to be for you. It matters. Your bond matters, too.

With love, Dr. V

Pawcurious: With Veterinarian and Author Dr. V

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Suki: A Short Film

Suki from Maxime-Claude L'Écuyer on Vimeo. From Tulp Films, Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer shares the story of Mathieu as he grapples with the ultimate decision: to end the life of his faithful companion, Suki. All of us will one day have to make this decision. It’s well worth the 12 minutes it takes to watch. Until next […]


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Fall Alert

dog running through leaves

As we enter Fall and the holiday season begins, there are steps you should take to ensure it’s a happy, healthy and safe season for both you and your pets:

  1. The holiday season means you may be doing a lot of entertaining at home. If you do any cleaning beforehand, be sure to keep all household chemicals out of your pet’s reach.
  2. Speaking of guests, odds are you’ll have lots of company entering and leaving your home.  Be sure you know where your pets are at all times.  We don’t want them slipping out the door unnoticed!
  3. Be sure you and your guests don’t overfeed your pets … particularly with table scraps from those holiday dinners.
  4. Turkey is in abundance during these holidays – especially during Thanksgiving.  Turkey bones lodged in tiny throats can be disastrous so safeguard your
    garbage cans and leftovers.
  5. Be sure to keep those holiday chocolates out of reach.  Chocolate, which contains theobromine, can be particularly toxic to our four-footed friends.
  6. Holiday plants such as poinsettas and mistletoe can be deadly, so keep them out of your pet’s reach.  If you receive a plant as a gift and you are not sure of its toxicity, check with your local garden center.
  7. Christmas trees are tempting to our pets, especially our curious felines.  To ensure that your tree is not knocked over, tie it to a railing or secure it to a bannister.
  8. Avoid using tinsel when decorating your tree as it can become stuck in your pet’s throat.
  9. When decorating your tree, place all breakable ornaments towards the top of the tree … out of your pet’s reach.  Remember, glass ornaments and Christmas tree lights can cut tiny paws if they shatter.  Place only unbreakable items on the bottom of your tree.
  10. Speaking of holiday lighting, your pet may try to chew on the extra extension cords used with holiday lighting.  Keep your eye on Fluffy or Fido and, if necessary, spray the cords with a deterrent product such as Bitter Lime or Bitter Apple.
  11. If you are using a live tree, do not add chemical preservatives to the tree’s water.  Your pet may drink the water and the chemicals might be toxic.
  12. Use caution when using decorative candles.  A burning candle knocked over by a curious pet could have disastrous results for both you and your pet.
  13. Finally, there’s nothing like a roaring fire on a cool night.  If you intend to use your fireplace or wood-burning stove, use a protective screen to prevent your pets from being singed.

By using a little thought and planning, both you and your pets can have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

Warren-Eckstein-cats-fbWarren Eckstein, host of The Pet Show, is an internationally known pet and animal expert. Warren has devoted over thirty years to teaching both pets and their people to live happily together through his unique “Hugs and Kisses” approach to animal behavior, care and training. 

Warren has worked with more than 40,000 pets including those of many well-known celebrities. David Letterman, Cheryl Tiegs, Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Ferraro, Al Pacino, Rodney Dangerfield, and Phylicia Rashad are just a few of many whom Warren has helped with pet problems.

Halo Pets

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Fido + Fluffy’s #FreebieFriday Catches Up After Pittsburgh

Whew…I’ve had a busy week doing some catch up after last week’s quick trip to Pittsburgh, sponsored by Nutrish. We had a great day volunteering at the Western Pennsylvania Humane…



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DogTipper

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Happy Birthday Grandmother Songs

Grandmother is the most loving, caring and beautiful person to a grandchild. Their presence is always peaceful and the wisdom they impart is important for the child. Wish your Grandma on their birthday with these messages. Share these lovely birthday wishes with everyone.   Dear Granny. Thank you for always picking my side when I […]



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Sunflower Faith

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Naples Dog Park (Ivy)

…after play, a drink for American Staff, Ivy.
RIVIERA DOGS

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Here’s one reason I will never be fashionable

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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The drug smuggler vs. the drug dog

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Using Teas to Soothe and Fuel My Day (+ a Giveaway from Lauku!)

Those of you who read here regularly or follow me on social media know that my family and I have been going through some pretty stressful times recently. And while I am incredibly grateful for the small victories we’ve seen, the love and positive vibes we’ve received from others, and the pieces of good news that have come our way thus far, I would be lying if I told you the stress hasn’t taken its toll. I’ve been physically and mentally drained like never before, and my brain has been on overdrive thanks to worry and lack of sleep. As a result, I’ve had to stop and consciously figure out how to take care of myself along the way, and also to find new ways to enjoy simple moments in my days that I’ve set aside just for me. One of the biggest (and most effective) ways I’ve done this is through the act of drinking three very different but equally soothing cups of tea each day, all from a wonderful, inspiring little company called Lauku.

The act of drinking tea as a means of self care is nothing new, of course, and it’s something I’ve personally done for a long time. But it really took finding a conscious tea brand with a “farm-to-cup” philosophy and a talent for creating the perfect teas for different moments of the day for me to genuinely feel completely satisfied by the experience. The flavor is one of the main reasons Lauku Tea is my personal favorite, but there are a lots of other aspects of the company that make me feel good about them being such an integral part of my current daily routine. First, you can’t find their teas on grocery store shelves or even in specialty tea houses. This is because the tea travels directly from the Ozolini farm in Lativa to me (or to you!). And on this farm, the Lukina family plants, grows, harvests, picks, dries and hand-packages all the tea themselves. (Did I mention that women rule the farm? I am totally down with that!) I also love that their teas are all natural, certified organic, and 100% sustainably grown – and without a doubt the freshest teas I’ve ever tasted. I genuinely feel soothed, restored, and fueled for my day with the help of these delicious teas – which has been really important to my headspace and body during a challenging time. Oh, and the teas are absolutely gorgeous to look at too. I feel like I’m pouring dried flowers into my cup every time.

Each morning, I start out with a cup of Brigita’s Daylight Blend. The blend of dried apple and meadow clover flowers is sunny and rejuvenating and an overall great way to wake up. Sometimes I add a splash of almond milk and some honey, but I usually just drink it plain. I really like starting my day feeling like I’m doing something to take care of my mental well being, even if just through a cup of organic tea.

In the afternoon, I make myself a cup of Anna’s Heritage Blend. Crafted with forest raspberry, wild strawberry, chamomile and mint, it makes for the perfect mid-day break. The chamomile calms my mind and the mint and berries provide a subtly uplifting burst to help me feel motivated to continue with my daily tasks. I always drink this plain.

I end each day with Evita’s Twilight Blend, which I’d best describe as serene, soft, and soothing. With meadowsweet, calendula, catnip and lemon balm (also called Melissa and the herb after which my mom named me, by the way), it’s the perfect blend for winding down. I usually drink this with a splash of organic milk and some honey. (It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to, this one would likely be my choice).

Reevaluating things and reminding myself of the importance of being intentional with self care – even through something as simple as three cups of tea a day – has been incredibly helpful in getting on a path to feeling more like myself again. Whether you’re in the best place you’ve ever been in your life or you’re in some need of some serious self care like I have been, I highly recommend trying out Lauku Tea’s delicious, handcrafted blends. I’m hooked, in the best of ways. And I can’t wait to give Lauku as holiday gifts in a couple of months.

Speaking of giving, I also get to give the gift of Lauku Tea to one of you! One lucky Bubby and Bean reader is going to get a beautiful Latvian Sun Sampler package, as well as one 2 ounce package of each of the three blends: Brigita’s Daylight Blend, Anna’s Heritage Blend, and Evita’s Twilight Blend. The value of these goodies is $ 60, but the pleasure they’ll bring you is priceless. Trust me on this.


To enter, just use the form below. There are several options for extra entries as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through September 29, 2016 and is open to Bubby and Bean readers worldwide. A winner will be randomly chosen via Random.org and announced here shortly after the end of the giveaway.

Thank you to our friends at Lauku Tea for giving us such a fantastic package to give away, and for making such delicious, consciously crafted teas. I can’t wait to hear what you guys think once you try them for yourselves!

This post is in partnership with Lauku Tea. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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